Texas Commission to Consider a Proposal to Turn State Road Maintenance Over to Cities

As reported by Better Roads, the Texas Transportation Commission plans to consider a proposal to turn the maintenance of 1,900 miles of state roads over to a number of cities.  The proposal, as described in a Dallas Morning News article, would save the state $100 million.

City and county officials were notified about the proposal in a letter from the state Transportation Department this week. The letter described the “turnback” program as an effort to “increase local control.”

The head of the Texas Municipal League scoffed at that suggestion. He called it a pass-the-buck gimmick and a massive, unfunded mandate that would increase property taxes on urban homeowners and businesses.

“This plan to abandon maintenance of state highways in 59 Texas cities is not about efficiency,” Bennett Sandlin, the group’s executive director, said Friday. “It’s just the latest gimmick by state officials to avoid responsibility for providing an adequate highway system for Texas.”

Transportation Department spokesman Bob Kaufman said many of the roadways in question were built as state farm-to-market roads. Over the years, they have evolved into local thoroughfares.

In Maryland, local governments are responsible for more than 80% of the total road miles. Significant reductions to Highway User Revenues, the portion of transportation revenues that were historically provided to local governments to maintain these roadways, have drastically affected a local governments ability to do so.  A new transportation task force was recently named to examine regional and local transportation funding issues. Highway User Revenue and other local funding options will be discussed as a part of the task force’s charge.